What happens when an INFJ meets an ESFP? Is there an instant attraction? Do they repel each other like two magnets?
Looking at their personality traits, you’d think they have little in common. When an early attraction persists, it’s cause for wonder. Usually, the bond is associated with their shared feeling (F) trait.
Introversion (I) vs. Extraversion (E)
The first big difference lies in the INFJ’s need for privacy vs. the ESFP’s preference for social contact. On the introversion/extraversion (I/E) scale, the inwardly focused nature of INFJs causes them to be reserved and, in extreme cases, reclusive. They dislike crowds and need considerable time alone. They’re worn out by prolonged social interaction. In contrast, extraverts are social butterflies. The company of other people energizes them. Being left alone too long makes them feel anxious and disorganized.
When an INFJ and ESFP are getting ready to go to a party, the INFJ may say, “Do we really have to go? I’d rather stay home and watch the Ferris Bueller movie again.” The ESFP is likely to reply, “C’mon, the party will be fun. We’ll see old friends. If you’re bored we can leave early.”
To which the INFJ responds, “I can promise you, I’ll want to leave early. And I know you. You won’t.” And so it’s likely to go.
Intuition (N) vs. Sensing (S)
The difference in Myers-Briggs traits can be more divisive for the partners in terms of their intuitive (N) vs. sensing traits. The well-developed intuition (N) of INFJs gives them a talent for interpreting the meaning of events around them on limited evidence. Their hunches are usually well-founded. To the sensing (S) ESFP, this makes no sense. ESFPs draw conclusions based on what they see and hear in the immediate environment. They’re less concerned about the meaning behind people’s actions than they are with the actions themselves.
On the way home from the party mentioned above, the ESFP may say, “Wow, did you see the ring on Jill’s finger? I guess they’re getting married after all.” To which the INFJ may respond, “I don’t know, they looked pretty tense with each other. I wouldn’t count on it.”
The ESFP thinks, “What? A ring is a ring! We all know what that means.” The INFJ thinks, “Ring? Who cares about the ring? I can tell there’s trouble in that relationship.” Mostly likely, the INFJ is right.
Perceiving (P) vs Judging (J)
INFJs and ESFPs are also worlds apart on their perceiving (P) and judging (J) traits, especially if they tend to be at extreme ends of the scales. Perceiving ESFPs are easy-going and fun-loving. If they’re a little late for an appointment or miss it entirely, oh well. Manaña is the name of the game. Not for the INFJ. To be late is almost a sin.
When frustrations arise in a relationship, they’re often due to P/J differences in the decision-making styles of the two types. ESFPs like to delay decisions until the last possible moment. In their view, there’s always more information to be gathered. They’re less concerned about bringing decisions to a close than enjoying the ride. INFJs prefer closure. They want to sign the contract and whip out their credit card. They’re more interested in reaching their destination than enjoying the scenery along the way. In old Type A—Type B terms, the INFJ is a Type A and the ESFP is a Type B.
When an INFJ/ESFP couple decide to buy a refrigerator, the INFJ goes to the computer, looks up comparative data and prices, and consults Consumer Reports for recommendations. By the time the partners walk out the door the next day to shop, the INFJ has already decided on a refrigerator, including the make and model.
Not so fast, says the partner. We’d better look around. They visit every appliance store in town before sundown, and still the ESFP hasn’t made a decision. They’d better go back on Sunday, the ESFP says. The INFJ is going crazy. Before they left the house that morning, the INFJ knew which refrigerator they should buy. He or she would like to wring the partner’s neck.
Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T)
Vive la feeling! At least the two types have this preference in common. Both are concerned with the other’s emotional comfort. They’re careful of the impact of their words, actions, and decisions upon the other. Both are kind, compassionate people.
Their feeling trait helps them work through the incompatible aspects of their personalities. The ESFP member of the couple is optimistic, playful and fun-loving. Of the two refrigerator shoppers, he or she takes the most outgoing, enthusiastic view of life. The INFJ is more focused and driven. Because they love each other, they make allowances and put effort into getting along and enjoying each other’s company. They give each other wiggle room.
The balance is important. If the INFJ is too demanding and insists that the partner make a choice by noon on Saturday based on Consumer Reports data, the person may pay later. The first time the refrigerator makes a funny noise, the ESFP will say, “See? I told you we should look around more.”
The secret of a successful INFJ/ESFP relationship lies in the couple’s tolerance, compassion and mutual enjoyment of life together. Their feeling function—their love for each other—is a major factor in the growth and stability of the partnership.
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